Spending Money vs. Time


There are lots of services out there that will do things on your behalf. You can drop your clothes off at the laundromat to get them washed and folded for you. You can purchase your groceries online and have them delivered to the house. You can pay people to mow your lawn and rake the yard.

People’s first reaction when I tell them I get my groceries sent to my house is that I’m spending money for no reason. I’m acting rich. Something like that. But let’s do the breakdown:

Money, Time

The service to get groceries delivered to my house costs $6 US. The average time I spend buying groceries is approximately an hour, start to finish. Is my time worth more than $6 an hour? Oh yes.

Laundry service costs 45 cents a pound. The average drop-off is costing me $45 dollars. But throwing loads in downstairs in the building costs me $3.00 for each load, totalling under $20. Doing laundry is annoying, but I can do other things at the same time. Is my time worth that extra $20? Not really (unless I get way behind).

Making Things to Sell

People will often tell me about a craft they’re making to sell, or some “easy” eBay scheme, and I can’t help myself. I always do the math. “How much do your materials cost? How long does it take to make? How much are you asking for these?” Plink. Plink. You’re making 41 cents an hour. If you have NO income, and you have lots of time, bully for you. But if you’re doing this because you think you’re going to make more money from it, reconsider.


Consider Your Hourly Value

First, decide whether time or money are more important to you, and also which you have more to spare. (Oddly, this is how business runs at the smaller level, right?) If time is more important to you in most cases (and I imagine you’ll agree that it is), consider the trade-offs between spending a little extra money but gaining extra time, versus what you save by doing something yourself.

Consider this outsourcing for your life.

Where are some of the areas you might be able to trade money for time? Here’s a short list. Can you add more?

  • Laundry service
  • Grocery delivery
  • Food delivery
  • Yard service
  • Housecleaning

Now, you might add one more criteria: which of these do you hate to do? Those might get a little extra weight in your decision making process. It might also be important to realize which cost more than others. You probably can’t afford to do all of them.

Are there twinges of guilt? Do you feel like you HAVE to do these things? Why? When all is tallied at the end of your life, will you get extra points for folding your own socks? Or will this time give you a chance to work on your masterwork?

Consider the value of your time, and plan accordingly.

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